by Rev. Dr. Jean Kim

Homelessness often stems from unemployment; underemployment; lack of education; accidents and injuries on the job; poor health; physical, emotional or psychological disabilities; generational poverty; alcohol or drug addiction; eviction; and prior incarceration. These challenges often destroy peoples’ hope and their motivation to try to improve their lives. The loss of hope pushes them into paralyzing despair which creates a vicious cycle. Thus, they are often trapped in long-term unemployment and homelessness.

Looking at the root causes of homelessness in the U.S. from a sociopolitical, economic and cultural standpoint, we find that our current economic system is chiefly responsible because it creates unprecedented wealth and poverty and an ever-widening gap between the two. While many Americans benefit from economic prosperity, our economic system has also created poverty and given birth to many negative outcomes such as lack of affordable housing, lack of jobs for all people who desire to work, ever-skyrocketing rent unaffordable to the poor, many rental barriers/restrictions, low minimum wage, gentrification, inadequate welfare, slashed public assistance, racism, unfair tax policies, social/cultural values (money and power devalue the poor and homeless), lack of long-term treatment services with vocational training and housing for the mentally ill, substance abusing or formerly incarcerated people, too large of a gap in income inequality and a lack of political will to end poverty and homelessness in the United States.  Most of the above are policy issues. Our poor policies have created a society that throws students – grade school to college age – into homelessness (for more details visit “Why People Experience Homelessness;” vol. one of 5 books Jean authored).